Staff consultation: Tapping into a wealth of knowledge

three_campusesIn a recent post we discussed formative research from a student perspective and how this is a key input for our user-centred methodology. Similarly to how we gather and synthesize knowledge directly from students, we do the same with our staff and administrative colleagues. In this post we’ll explore our research and consultation efforts that involve staff and faculty perspectives.

To begin with, here are a few stats from the ACORN project. In the last year we have:

  • Held over 60 meetings and presentations
  • Met with 200+ staff and faculty members
  • Had representation from over 100 departments, divisions and/or units




This is in addition to the students we have interviewed, surveyed and had test our design prototypes.

Why does the NGSIS team do such an intensive consultation? What’s the point of reaching out to all these people and holding all these meetings and presentations? Is all this time spent worth it?

The answer is this: Our user-centred approach depends on the sustained involvement of our community. We can’t build great products for our users if we are working in a vacuum.



For our project teams, this stakeholder involvement yields three critical benefits:

  • First, stakeholders point out potential pitfalls and opportunities that we may not be aware of and would have very little chance of encountering on our own.
  • Second, they help us deepen our understanding of existing frustrations, pain points and processes. We start with a high-level understanding of a topic and with the help of our stakeholders dive deep into the core of an issue. The richness of institutional knowledge and experience in our vast stakeholder group is irreplaceable.
  • Lastly, once we’ve completed fleshing out our vision and begun building a product, our stakeholders help validate our applied understanding through iterative guidance and testing of the solution we create.

formative_research_stageThere is a wonderful symbiosis between the project team and our stakeholders. To create a quality product we need to leverage as much knowledge and understanding as possible from those around us. They are integral to our user-centred approach. The investment in time to gain these insights pays off in droves.

As this blog progresses we’ll continue to explore this topic of stakeholder involvement. Stay tuned!